June 11, 2024

Orthopedists: What do they do?

3 min read

A young African American man being examined by a female doctor or nurse. She is testing his reflexes with a reflex hammer. They are looking at each other, conversing.

Orthopedics focuses on the treatment of the musculoskeletal. This system is composed of muscles and bones as well as joints, ligaments, tendons, and other supporting structures.

An orthopedist, a specialist in orthopedics, is a person who has specialized in that field. Orthopedists have both surgical options and nonsurgical solutions to address musculoskeletal issues such as joint pain, sports injuries, back problems, and joint pain.

This article will provide an overview of orthotics. It provides an overview of orthopedists’ treatment options and describes what patients can expect during an Orth appointment.

This article also addresses the qualifications that are required to become an orthodontist.

What is orthotics?

Orthodontics, or orthopedic surgery, as it is commonly known, is a specialty in medicine that deals with the care of bones and interconnecting structures. These parts include:

  • Bones
  • Muscles
  • Joints
  • Tendons
  • Ligaments
  • Nerves

There are two types of orthopedists generally: surgical and non-surgical. The orthopedists of the former category are called orthopedists. While nonsurgical orthopedists include physical medicine, rehabilitation specialists, and physiatrists.

An orthopedist may be part of a larger team that treats orthopedic patients. This may include:

  • Physician assistants
  • Nurse practitioners
  • Physical and occupational therapists
  • Athletic trainers

What Can Orthopedists Do?

An array of musculoskeletal problems can be treated by Orthopedists. These conditions may occur at birth or after an injury or other age-related wear.

Here are some common conditions that an orthopedist could treat:

  • Arthritis can cause severe joint pain.
  • Bone fractures
  • Soft tissue injuries are those which affect muscles, ligaments, and tendons.
  • Back pain
  • Neck pain
  • Problem with the shoulders, such as bursitis
  • Carpal tunnel syndrome

What to Expect During an Appointment?

The orthopedist can diagnose the person’s condition during the initial appointment. This can include a physical examination as well as taking X-rays.

In some cases, the doctor may request additional tests or run tests in-office to confirm the diagnosis.


The orthopedist will also need to be involved in the diagnosis.

  • Ask about the person’s symptoms
  • You can look at the person’s medical records to find out more about their medical history.
  • Conducting a physical examination
  • Review all X-rays taken prior to the appointment

The orthopedist may order additional diagnostic tests. These could include:

  • An MRI scan
  • A CT scan
  • A bone scan
  • An ultrasound
  • Nerve conduction studies
  • Blood tests

In-office procedures

An orthopedist could perform an in-office procedure to help diagnose certain musculoskeletal issues.

X-rays have been deemed “the most popular and widely used diagnostic imaging technique.”

An orthopedist often will perform X-rays in the office. This allows them to diagnose certain conditions while a person is waiting. They might also provide injections, such as corticosteroid injections, to ease inflammation, or scan the body for abnormalities.

Some injuries are more serious than others, such as fractures.

Treatment options

The orthopedist may recommend the following treatments to treat chronic musculoskeletal issues:

  • There are over-the-counter anti-inflammatory medicines
  • Rehabilitation and physical therapy
  • Home exercise programs
  • Injections
  • Acupuncture
  • Mobility aids
  • Surgery when other treatments fail


A dislocated upper arm is a common injury that can affect anyone. The doctor can easily treat most dislocated shoulders without needing surgery. Redislocations are more likely in people younger than 50. Repeated shoulder injuries can result in instability, arthritis, and further injuries. Patients at higher risk for injury may be offered surgery as a preventive measure. Talking to a shoulder surgeon like Colorado Advanced Orthopedics is a great way to make informed decisions about how to treat your injury. Contact an orthopedic surgeon near you. For more information regarding the best treatment.

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